“Walking” refers to a type of bass line which uses continuous quarter notes to drive the music forward, usually in conjunction with a drummer’s ride cymbal and/or hi hat cymbal. Walking bass lines set the foundation for a swing groove by creating a strong pulse and a flowing, connected sound.
One of the first things to do once you can track the roots through a tune is to start adding the 5th of each chord to your bass lines to start getting movement and variation.
Walking bass lines do not have to be complicated. In fact, complicating them too much when first learning, can lead to too much focus on what note to play next and not enough focus on the groove and feel of the music being played.
In a jazz combo setting, the bass player most often focuses on the “lower” parts of the chord, specifically the root, 3rd, and 5th of chords along with passing tones (PT) and neighbor tones (NT).
Similar to leading tones, the “chromatic 4” walkup is based on movement by half-step leading to a “target note”. In the case of the “chromatic 4”, a series of half steps is used to lead to a target note over the course of a full measure.
Three choruses of walking line examples using above concepts.
One chorus of walking line example using above concepts.
This lesson will cover the basics of constructing a Latin style bass line on a real book tune or lead sheet labeled “Latin,” and offer a few exercises to get the feel and techniques under your fingers.